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AFK, Apt and Nicholas Hare make redundancies

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A trio of London-based practices has confirmed staff lay-offs as the uncertain economic climate continues to hit workloads

Arney Fender Katsalidis (AFK) said it had made eight staff redundant while Apt (formerly Robin Partington & Partners) and Nicholas Hare Architects have also both admitted to reducing staff numbers. 

A spokesperson for AFK, which only recently had become the highest-placed new member in this year’s AJ100, said the ‘ongoing uncertainty in the market’ had prompted the directors ‘to undertake a thorough review of the current requirements of [its] London studio.’

The company, which also has a Toronto office and boasted 42-qualified architects when the AJ100 data was collected, said the ‘strategic process [had] regrettably led to eight redundancies in order to balance [its] interim workload’.

The spokesperson added: ‘’While the lack of clarity and uncertainty in the UK market has brought, and will no doubt continue to bring, many challenges for the whole industry, we remain entirely optimistic about our future on account of our strategic direction, strong pipeline of projects and higher predicted revenue for next year, as well as the continued trust and support of our clients.

‘[We] have made significant appointments, including a new director to lead our residential sector, and a newly created role of chairman, who will lead us through this process and heighten our governance and the strategic focus of the business.

‘We have also seconded a number of our staff to bolster our rapidly growing Toronto studio – which is an advantage of being a global practice and aligned to strengthening our UK and Canada focus.’

While the exact number of staff laid off by Islington-based Nicholas Hare Architects has not been revealed, practice partner James Eades confirmed: ‘We have recently and sadly had to make reductions in staff numbers, a result of unplanned changes to the programme and requirements of some of our projects.

‘However, we continue to be cautiously optimistic, having had positive news in the past [month] on new projects which helps to strengthen the practice and boost confidence.’

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Apt, which is understood to have made fewer than 10 staff redundant, said: ‘Due to the continuing uncertain economic climate, which has caused delays on some of our projects, we have made the difficult decision to make a small number of redundancies across the practice in order to balance our current resource levels.’

According to the latest RIBA Future Trends Workload Index May, practices in London remained among the most pessimistic in the country about the pipeline of jobs.

RIBA head of economic research and analysis, Adrian Malleson, said: ‘Commentary from practices this month continued to reference difficulties caused by the lack of clarity around Brexit.

‘Clients remain cautious, fees are under pressure, and projects are being put on hold or delayed. But some practices seem more optimistic, reporting an increase in enquiries, a resilient domestic sector and a reluctance to acquire work through fee discounting.

‘This complex picture suggests an architectural market that is unsure of future workloads. Many practices face significant downward pressure and uncertainty is a common theme.’ 

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